HARRISBURG — Saturday was all about Sunday.
Survive to see another day. Keeping the eye on the prize.
Think Phillies winning a division title. Good for them, but then there are loftier goals ahead, like a pennant and the World Series.
So who would blame junior Eric Howe of Lancaster Catholic for maybe tempering his excitement after beating top-seeded Parker Davidson of Hamburg 5-4 with a last-second takedown to win the 120-pound District Three Class 2A Section 2 championship at Central Dauphin East High School.
Only he didn’t.
“It’s one of the most exciting things that’s ever happened to me in my life,” Howe said of the last-second win over a wrestler he had not beaten in three previous tries. “It’s insane to win that way.”
Howe gets to do it all over again Sunday, as do all the top four finishers from Saturday, back at CD East for the Class 2A overall championships, with the top four place-winners from Section 1 providing the opposition. Then it’s on to regionals, super regionals and finally the state championships in Hershey.
“It’s exciting because it’s my first time winning it,” Howe said.
Senior Jace Beegle of Pequea Valley knows the drill. He’s a Class 2A Section 2 champion as well, having earned an injury default victory at 126 pounds over top-seeded Gary Deymarin of Schuylkill Valley. Beegle, the No. 2 seed, took Deymarin down awkwardly late in the first period, a move from which Deymarin never recovered, as he injured his right knee.
“It’s cool, but it’s not the way I wanted to win,” said Beegle, who extended his record to 17-1. “It’s a finals match, so you hate to see that happened to the guy. Gary’s a really good wrestler.”
Beegle moves on with unfinished business on his mind.
In all, 19 L-L League wrestlers advanced to Sunday’s Class 2A championships, including Columbia freshman Campbell Stoudamire, who took third at 132 pounds with a 6-1 decision over Landon Brubaker of Elco, who also advanced.
Also at 132, top-seeded Grady Stichler of Northern Lebanon advanced as the runner-up to champion Nick Geary of Brandywine Heights. Stichler’s gallant attempt to escape Geary’s grasp in the final minute ran out of steam in the final seconds, and he fell, 6-4.
But there were no closer matches or more exciting finishes Saturday than Howe’s.
Trailing 3-0 after two periods, Howe mounted his comeback with an escape from the down position, followed by a take-down to tie the match 3-3. Davidson’s escape gave him a 4-3 lead with a minute remaining. Howe saw the opening in the closing seconds, secured the single leg and took Davidson down to the mat near the edge to secure the win with one second to spare.
“I knew I had to get to my offense,” Howe said of the closing seconds. “I hadn’t really been shooting lately, so I knew I had to start moving in looking for my opportunity to shoot, because I didn’t have much time left.
“I knew once on got in on that shoot I’d finish it.”
Howe enters Sunday’s Class 2A Championships at 22-2.
Joining Stichler as runners-up were two other Vikings, Owen Lehman and Owen Breidegan.
At 106, the second-seeded Lehman fell behind 3-0 after two periods and couldn’t escape from the bottom position to start the third, losing 3-0 to top-seeded Jacob Deysher of Brandywine Heights.
At 113, third-seeded Breidegan struggled mightily against unbeaten Dillon Reinert of Brandywine Heights, who finished off a 15-0 technical all 1:06 into the second period.
Also advancing to the finals but settling for seconds were a pair of Pequea Valley Braves: Dustin Huber at 152 and Nate Miller at 285. Both were pinned in the finals.
Along with Stoudamire, thirds went to Liam McGinley (PV) at 106, Trenton Brubaker (Elco) at 132, Caden Droege (Lancaster Catholic) at 145, Kayden Clark (NL) at 152, Mason McClair (LC) at 172, and teammate Ben Reigner at 215.